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AC631N-Businesses-Interior of Citizen's

The Full Story

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In 1895, Commodore H.W. Williams and R.T. Pierce arranged to have South Haven’s oldest hotel moved from the southeast corner of Phoenix and Center Street to a new location on Center Street. The partners planned to use the lots for a magnificent new brick building. A firm from Jackson, Michigan was then hired to construct a two-story building with basement. Built in 1896, the building was originally home to the Citizen’s State Bank. 

By December of 1896 the new building was ready for tenants. Citizens State Bank occupied the west room which was described as elegant quarters. Below the bank at sidewalk level with entrances on Center Street, there were shops for barbers McGregor and Jillson, Mrs. Minnie Jillson – ladies hair dresser and A. E. Ketchum painter and decorator. The east part of the building was occupied by Lake Captain L.A. Leighton for his Dollar Store. He also had space on the upper floor and basement with a hand powered elevator for his convenience. In addition to Leighton’s basement space, there was room for printing a periodical called The South Haven News. The upper rooms were planned for offices with one large room called “The Castle” for clubs and banquets.

Many changes have taken place during the hundred plus years of the building’s existence. After Captain Leighton’s death in 1906 the south room became W.J. Viall’s Dry Goods store, followed by Johnson and McKimmie’s Inc., and Mallory Square L.T.D. Citizens State Bank and First State Bank merged in 1943. The west room was then a restaurant for a short time followed by McKimmie’s Sport Shop.

Today, two of the bank’s original vaults remain in use as storage. Our spacious and nostalgic building if filled with stunning antique relics topped off with a large collection of South Haven memorabilia that has been thoughtfully gathered over the years.

When the Ruppert family purchased it in 1989, they refurbished the interior showcasing the tin ceilings and extensive woodwork that can be seen throughout the ornate building. Two of the bank’s original vaults remain in use as storage. The spacious nostalgic building is filled with stunning antique relics and topped off with a large collection of South Haven memorabilia that has been thoughtfully gathered over the years.

AC1020N-Street View-McKimmie Building 19

The Family Business

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In 1972, a farmer from Indiana moved his family to South Haven to begin a new life. As the 30-year-old father of three sons, Al Ruppert had only ever known life on a dairy farm. But his love for his children and his desire to give them the best life possible prompted the Ruppert family to give up what was familiar and move close to a special school in Berrien Springs that would help his hearing-impaired son learn to communicate.

Ruppert’s career in South Haven began with his purchase of the South Haven Office Supply Store, where he sold office supplies and copy machines and repaired typewriters. Ruppert purchased Art’s Tavern in 1981 and renamed it Clementine’s. A few more years passed, and in 1986 he purchased the Mariner Inn and, in 1989, Clem’s Too, in St. Joseph. His holdings were expanding, and his entrepreneurial spirit grew. In 1991, Ruppert purchased the old Citizen’s State building, constructed in 1896, where Clementine’s now operates. His final, most recent purchase became HawksHead Golf Course and Restaurant.

Ruppert credits his work ethic for the success of his businesses, a work ethic that was learned milking cows every day as a child. Sons Kevin, Greg and Jon and their families have joined the family business as well and followed Ruppert’s example closely. Not only has he charted the course for his family, but he has also set the example for the people who work for and with him. He knows each employee and treats them as extended family.

He expects hard work from his staff, but they are happy to do it because he leads the way. 
Not only does Ruppert go out of his way for his employees and family, he is deeply committed to the community, donating his time, and lending his expertise whenever he can. He is also a frequent sponsor of community events and contributes wherever needed.

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